Health and Safety regulations are treated as something of a joke by many, being called Elf N Safety and similar nicknames and although they can sometimes seem to be a bit of a nuisance, they do have a very real part to play. Where they begin to annoy people is when they seem to be causing unnecessary work and time wasting but the truth is often that the person who is writing everlasting method statements and risk assessments has often misunderstood the issue. The possibly apocryphal story of the company who had a risk assessment for every single action which could be carried out including opening the door and going upstairs is likely to be nearer the truth than many people actually realise.
Many people feel that the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) are simply an extension of the Nanny State trying to make us all behave like robots. This is not the case of course – the HSE came into existence though under another name during the Industrial Revolution so for almost two hundred years they have been collating statistics and helping government decide on any changes in legislation that may be needed. No regulations are brought in for no reason but are usually led by previous accident reports or by details sent in by workers in a particular sector who have seen an issue that needs addressing. Newspaper reporting can be part of the common misconceptions as a headline such as ‘HSE Regulations Save Many Lives’ is not half as arresting as ‘Government Spies Stop Conker Matches’. The ban on conkers, just out of interest, is another apocryphal story.
Hard work at the Beginning
Any company starting from scratch has the problem that they will have to do all of their risk assessments and other paperwork from a standing start and this may seem onerous at first. The trick is to take it steadily, so that no one is doing nothing but writing out forms. The HSE have exemplars to follow and most companies are doing the same work as others – even in quite an innovative situation, there is almost bound to be something that has already been covered by others. In this way, the Health and Safety Regulations help everyone because a body of information is being built up which benefits every company and individual. Once a company has risk assessments and method statements in place they need to be checked regularly, but most of the hard work is already done.
Don’t make work for yourself
Making the Health and Safety Regulations work for you is the secret of keeping a well and safe workforce without spending every minute on paperwork. The HSE is there to help and has a very comprehensive website but if by some chance your question does not appear there, you can contact them for help. Their new poster is now displayed in all premises and is very easy to follow and will enable anyone who is unsure as to what they should be doing to check without jumping through too many hoops. In general, Elf N Safety has gone from strength to strength and has made the workplace much safer.
Article by Rebecca Fearn, Freelance Copywriter who often writes for Boss Training.